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Costco takes Amazon’s US customer service crown

A new leader in e-commerce has emerged, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s retail and consumer shipping report 2018-19, which saw wholesale retailer Costco overtake Amazon as the most satisfying online retailer.

Amazon dropped from the top spot for the first time since 2010, with its slowed retail growth put to the acquisition of Wholefoods, giving competitors a chance to catch up and, in the case of Costco, overtake.

According to respondents, though the internet provides the most satisfying way to shop there have been little to no improvement in the online shopping experience over the year, and many aspects have actually gotten worse.

Product images, descriptions, navigation, shipping options, merchandise variety, and customer support all fell over the 12 months, though mobile app quality and reliability entered the index high on the list.

However, the report does identify that customer satisfaction is on the decline across retail in America, with weaker results across all six categories it presented – department and discount stores, specialty retail stores, health and personal care stores, supermarkets, petrol stations, and internet retail.

“The widespread decline for retail is due, in part, to less-than-stellar customer service,” the report reads, adding that as employees move up the chain, they are regularly replaced by less experienced staff which puts a strain on the quality of service until they can be properly trained.

Costco also led the department and discount stores segment ahead of rivals Walmarts and BJ’s Wholesale Club.

The report mirrors what has been seen in Australia, with Costco having led Roy Morgan’s discount department store satisfaction report in September, beating out rivals Target and Kmart.

“Costco’s victory in July comes as the American retailer has unveiled plans for an ambitious expansion with a huge new distribution centre set to open in Sydney’s west next year signalling an expanded online retail presence,” Roy Morgan chief executive Michele Levine said.

“The focus on customers resulting in high customer satisfaction ratings of leading discount department stores show that Costco, Kmart, Target, Big W and others are taking the threat posed by online retailer Amazon seriously.”

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